Neighborhood Ethnic Diversity and Behavioral and Emotional Problems in 3 Year Olds: Results from the Generation R Study

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Abstract

Background:Studies suggest that neighborhood ethnic diversity may be important when it comes to understanding ethnic inequalities in mental health. The primary aim of this study was to investigate whether neighborhood ethnic diversity moderated the association between the ethnic minority status and child behavioral and emotional problems.Methods:We included 3076 preschoolers participating in the Generation R Study, a birth cohort study in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. At child age 3-years, parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL/1,5-5). Individual-level data, assessed with questionnaires, was combined with neighborhood-level data. Multi-level logistic regression models predicted the Odds Ratios for the CBCL total problems score as a function of maternal ethnic background and neighborhood ethnic diversity, computed with the Racial Diversity Index and categorized into tertiles. Interaction on the additive scale was assessed using Relative Access Risk due to Interaction.Results:Being from an ethnic minority was associated with child behavioral and emotional problems in unadjusted (OR 2.76, 95% CI 1.88-4.04) and adjusted models (OR 2.64, 95% CI 1.79-3.92). Residing in a high diversity neighborhood was associated with child behavioral and emotional problems in unadjusted (OR 2.03, 95% CI 1.13-3.64) but not in adjusted models (OR 0.89, 95% CI 0.51-1.57). When stratifying by the three levels of neighborhood ethnic diversity, ethnic inequalities in behavioral and emotional problems were greatest in low diversity neighborhoods (OR 5.24, 95%CI 2.47-11.14), smaller in high diversity neighborhoods (OR 3.15, 95% CI 1.66-5.99) and smallest in medium diversity neighborhoods (OR 1.59, 95% CI 0.90-2.82). Tests for interaction (when comparing medium to low diversity neighborhoods) trended towards negative on both the additive and multiplicative scale for the maternal-report (RERI: -3.22, 95% CI -0.70-0.59; Ratio of ORs: 0.30, 95% CI 0.12-0.76).Conclusion:This study suggests that ethnic inequalities in child behavioral and emotional problems may be greatest in ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods. © 2013 Flink et al.

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Flink, I. J. E., Prins, R. G., Mackenbach, J. J. P., Jaddoe, V. W., Hofman, A., Verhulst, F. C., … Raat, H. (2013). Neighborhood Ethnic Diversity and Behavioral and Emotional Problems in 3 Year Olds: Results from the Generation R Study. PLoS ONE, 8(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070070

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